Continuing CHAPTER V Related issues and approaches


Multilateralism and disarmament

In order to better address the challenges in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation, including the prevention of the possible acquisition and use of WMD by terrorists, the United Nations underlined once again, in various disarmament fora, the urgency and importance of reaffirming and strengthening the multilateral disarmament framework. In his 2004 report on the work of the Organization, the Secretary-General stated that the architects of the Charter were guided by a central idea - durable international peace could be built only on foundations of interdependence. Underpinning this idea was the rule of law and multilateralism as the only rational basis for civilized discourse among nations. Shared responsibility was at the heart of the United Nations Millennium Declaration adopted in September 2000. Much has changed since the Millennium Summit, and even more since the Charter was adopted. Yet the values of interdependence and shared responsibility remain fundamental.1
The views of the Member States on the subject were reflected in the Secretary- General's report entitled "Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation"2
The General Assembly, in response to the call for renewed commitment to the multilateral approach to disarmament, adopted for a third consecutive year a resolution on the promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.3

General Assembly, 2004

59/69. Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation
The draft resolution was introduced by Malaysia on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Non-Aligned Movement on 22 October. It was adopted by the First Committee on 27 October (109-9-49) and by the General Assembly on 3 December (125-9-49). For the text of the resolution and the voting, see pages 20 and 24.
The resolution reaffirmed multilateralism as the core principle in negotiations in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation with a view to maintaining and strengthening universal norms and enlarging their scope. It also requested the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States on the issue and to submit a report to the General Assembly at its sixtieth session.
First Committee
After the vote, two States explained their abstentions. The Netherlands, which spoke on behalf of the European Union (EU) and a number of other countries4 that aligned themselves with its explanation of vote, reaffirmed the EU's commitment to the multilateral treaty system as the best approach to security, including disarmament and non-proliferation. Still, the EU could not support several elements in the draft resolution that did not give sufficient credit to the unilateral, bilateral and multilateral efforts in those fields. Canada, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said that it could not support the language in operative paragraph 1 that multilateralism was the core principle in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. In its view, their shared security system was the sum of many parts - multilateral, plurilateral, regional, bilateral and unilateral measures - which were all effective in global non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament. It also argued that the draft offered a restrictive vision of multilateralism.

1 Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization, Supplement No. 1, (A/59/1), 20 August 2004.
2A/59/128 and Add.1.
3A/RES/59/69.
4The Netherlands spoke on behalf of the European Union and the candidate countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey, the countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro, and the European Free Trade Association countries of Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area.